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Shake the salt habit

From the Heart and Stroke Foundation

There's a place for salt in a healthy eating plan, but most of us consume two or even three times the recommended amount, often without even realizing it. We need small amounts of salt for healthy functioning, such as maintaining a proper fluid balance in the body.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation suggests that Canadians use no more than 1 tsp (5 mL) of salt a day.

The blood pressure connection

About one-third of people are sensitive to the sodium component of salt. This means that excess dietary salt can increase the amount of blood in the arteries, raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

If you can lower your intake little by little each day, you can reduce blood pressure. Because our diets are generally so high in salt, everybody even those with normal blood pressure can benefit from reducing salt intake.

Foods with high salt content

It's not so much the salt shaker to blame it contributes only about 10% of total consumption. The real culprit is processed foods, including fast foods, prepared meals, processed meats such as hot dogs and lunchmeats, canned soups, bottled dressings, packaged sauces, condiments such as ketchup and pickles, and salty snacks like potato chips.

Steps you can take to lower salt intake

Check the Nutrition Facts table on food products for sodium or salt. If the daily value of sodium listed in the table is 10% or less, the product is considered low in salt.

To help reduce added, unnecessary salt:

  • Cut down on prepared and processed foods
  • Eat more fresh vegetables and fruit
  • Reduce the amount of salt you add while cooking or baking
  • Experiment with other seasonings, such as garlic, lemon juice and fresh or dried herbs
  • Avoid using commercially softened water for drinking or cooking
  • Look for the Health Check symbol on foods. Health Check is the Heart and Stroke Foundation's food information program, based on Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Living.

Heart and Stroke Foundation


Your use of the information in this article is subject to the Heart and Stroke Foundation Terms and Conditions of Use and therefore you agree to be bound by the implied terms and conditions in each of the following statements.

This article has been independently researched, written and reviewed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and is based on scientific evidence. The information is for reference and education only. This web article is not intended to be a substitute for a physician'‘s advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should consult your physician for specific information on personal health matters. The Heart and Stroke Foundation assumes no responsibility or liability arising from any error in, or omission of, information or from the use of any information or advice contained within this article.

™ - All trademarks, service marks, logos and articles are owned by and are the exclusive property of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ("HSFC") and authorized use is only granted under license. Such trademarks, service marks, logos and articles may not be reproduced, copied, imitated or used, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of HSFC.

© - 2008. Reproduced with permission of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada


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